Dispatches From Elsewhere concludes its introductions in “Fredwynn”, but there’s a whole lot of mystery left to unravel.
This recap of Dispatches From Elsewhere Season 1, Episode 4, “Fredwynn”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
With Dispatches From Elsewhere Episode 4, AMC’s thoroughly bizarre genre-blending metadrama completes its introduction and focus on each of its main characters. We began with Peter (Jason Segel) and Simone (Eve Lindley), we had Janice (Sally Field) last week, and here the subject is the estimable conspiracy theorist Fredwynn (André Benjamin), whose story begins with him hopping into the limo of Octavio (Richard E. Grant).
As ever, Octavio himself introduces us to Fredwynn and his obsession, his need to feel “okay” through the fervent pursuit of mysteries to solve, conspiracies to unravel, things to purchase and own. Where Janice’s internal dilemma was the sudden absence of companionship, Fredwynn’s is the inability to find and maintain companionship because of that all-consuming desire to know, to understand, to figure out the rules of “the game” between the Jejune Institute and the Elsewhere Society that he believes he’s playing.
When Octavio discovers Fredwynn in the back of his limo, one of his bodyguards refers to him as a “hardcore”, someone who takes the game too seriously, which seems a fair assessment to me. He’s determined to discover the truth and to do so alone; he isn’t interested in where his teammates are, or if they’re coming to rescue him, and is seemingly used to being on his own. He’s locked in a closet and subsequently escapes, unaware of what’s going on elsewhere in Janice’s episode.
Speaking of Janice’s episode, we see the connections to it in Dispatches From Elsewhere Episode 4, as Fredwynn witnesses a woman hand Octavio an envelope and then calls Janice to tell her to swipe it. He interrogates a theatre staffer who directs him to a production office, where he finds a prompt book and the stage manager. Posing as an intern, he sees Janice’s descent into her own virtual memories, which is apparently a combination of VR and social media stalking – sounds about right.
The idea of Jejune being a company of elaborate ruses isn’t surprising, but there’s a suggestion here that the Elsewhere Society might not be their adversary but a part of that very same ruse; when the Elsewhere commander and his fellows interrupt Janice’s demonstration, the stage manager implies that they were scheduled to come out as part of the show – a moment perhaps triggered early by Fredwynn’s interference.
Later, Fredwynn shares the pages he stole from the prompt book with Peter, Janice, and Simone, explaining that the game isn’t just a game, which doesn’t really make things much clearer. But he has proof that manipulation is afoot, at the very least, and the players are being prompted in the direction of Clara, a missing girl presumably of some considerable importance given how much has been made of her so far.
If you’re wondering why Fredwynn believes all this, and why he considers himself so uniquely qualified to combat it, Dispatches From Elsewhere Episode 4 has the answer in the form of his background. He has degrees in philosophy and economics. And he’s rich, having worked for big data companies and become disillusioned by their consolidation of resources and wielding of personal information as power. He’s so obsessed with the game, as he sees it because he has participated in it, benefitted from it.
Fredwynn leads the gang to an apartment linked to the paper Janice stole from Octavio, which is a list of people for whom the demonstration was prepared. The apartment is occupied by the woman who gave Octavio the note in the first place. None of the others believe Fredwynn is telling the truth about what she did, and there’s a bit more discord among the group as they all agree to take another break. Janice, in particular, scolds Fredwynn for his self-centered attitude, and his desire to win alone rather allow others who might help him to catch up. While he struggles with the concept, he wants to understand his teammates better – but he just can’t help himself from breaking back into the theatre and looking for more clues.
Perhaps as a metaphor for his own self-involvement, Fredwynn is able to meditate his way to a clue – a glowing gift tag among Janice’s wedding presents during her VR demonstration – that he requires Janice herself to decipher. But she’s reluctant since he turns up at her house in the middle of the night talking about memory palaces and such things. She introduces Fredwynn to her comatose husband, Lev, and explains how he had a stroke last year and she can’t let him go, despite the fact that their son thinks he should be in a care facility. Snippets of Fredwynn’s life emerge from the cracks in his obsession with the game – things about his mother, and his inability to maintain relationships. It’d be nice to learn more about these things, but there’s no time since Fredwynn talks Janice into re-entering her VR wedding. Leading her to the gift tag, he’s able to decipher that it’s an address in Fishtown, home of Clara, and previously explored by Peter and Simone. They all return there together, after some convincing.
This is just about where Dispatches From Elsewhere Episode 4 ends, with everyone discovering that a big fake hole in the floor might be the door to the elusive Clara’s hideout. Knowing this show, I’m sure it won’t be as simple as that. But with all four of our main characters introduced, now is the time to descend deeper into the mystery.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.